A young man came in for counseling. He looked thin, not too healthy. He told me he was having negative thinking and was unable to concentrate on his work. He looked quite sleepy and he felt he was having some major mental issue.
One question and the reason for his problems was identified. He does not have breakfast! Just a glass of milk. No wonder he looks fatigued and his brain is sluggish. He has been doing this for more than a year. He is staying in the city with friends where there is no regimented lifestyle. The friends do the cooking, only in the evening. For lunch they depend on the food available near their respective offices.
Sleep is late, due to time consumed for cooking. So he sleeps into the morning, grabs a glass of milk and is off to office. I had to help him reschedule his day, building in activities that improved his health and also gave him time for relaxation.
Another counselor had observed that engineering college students were appearing lethargic. She was addressing some students on building motivation. One student told her he lacks motivation and has loss of concentration. She asked at what time of the day this happens? He told her from the first lecture itself. He has to drag himself to college. She wanted to know if only he had the issue? He said most of his classmates had it.
She was perplexed. How can there be mass lack of motivation? On further probing, she found that there was sleep deprivation happening. The students were texting, chatting, updating on social networking sites, etc. late into the night. So they would sleep sometime in the early hour of the morning, and then come to college. There was sleep deprivation and so these students were suffering from lack of motivation/ concentration, feeling lethargic and drowsy throughout the day. This is the price of modern technology as also changes in lifestyle.
These two issues are combined. The changes in lifestyle, where sleep and diet are not given due importance, is playing havoc on the younger generation’s ability to function effectively. This trend is being seen and it does raise questions about their health. Both physical as well as mental. And not being able to maintain healthy relationships will also affect their emotional health.
Is the younger generation lacking in discipline? Or is the lure of technology so great? Is parental control lacking? Or is it because the youth is either in college hostels, or living in cities, in groups, with no elders around?
Certainly the youth that comes in looking for work from smaller towns cannot afford quality stay. They either stay in mansions that are run in not so hygienic fashion, or some three or four youngsters get together and rent out a house. They try to take care of their own cooking. They are not really earning well, they also need to send home money. So they compromise on food; they need to maintain their clothing, cell phones and probably a bike also. This does take a toll on their physical health. And if the youngster is the only one repaying a heavy debt incurred by his/ her parent, then this youth is also under tremendous stress. Not a great recipe for healthy life. And there is no gender difference here.
Not all those who study in engineering colleges are day scholars, in the sense living with their parents. They could stay in hostels/ accommodations with other students. Here again their food gets compromised as also their sleep. So how can we catch them in time to reverse this damage?
Parents and educators have a role to play here. But it need not be restricted to them alone. Any older person who believes in the benefit of good diet as well as quality sleep, can guide the youngsters and get them to undergo positive changes. The older generation needs to understand the stress modern lifestyle is placing on our younger generation. A good number of youngsters are leading such lives. It is scary. What and how will their future be?
Rules and structures are important. Without them being rootless can hinder rather than help grow. Of course there are youngsters who believe in dieting because they want to maintain their figure. Also there are youngsters who are naturally small made. They do eat well, but it does not show on their frames.
But those who compromise on their diet because they are forced to or because they do not know the consequences, are many. These misguided youth require counseling as well as mentoring. Good health can lead to so many positives in life. And good health requires nutritious diet as well as quality sleep, among other things. The youth also need to be educated on this along with saying NO to drugs, alcohol and also tobacco.